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Five Covid-19 Vaccines in Clinical Trials

Coronavirus face mask

(Tumisu, Pixabay)

10 Apr. 2020. A review of vaccines for preventing Covid-19 infections shows five of those projects are in early-stage clinical trials, with 18 more in preclinical stage. A report on the Covid-19 vaccine development landscape was undertaken by a team from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, that appears in yesterday’s issue of the journal Nature Reviews – Drug Discovery.

CEPI, in Oslo, Norway, funds development of vaccines against infectious disease pandemics. The organization is a consortium of public health authorities, companies, and civil organizations that supports research and development of vaccines to stop known infectious disease outbreaks, but also establishes platform technologies that can be activated against previously unknown pathogens, the so-called Disease X. As reported by Science & Enterprise in January, CEPI is an early backer of vaccines against Covid-19 infections, then called the novel coronavirus.

In the journal article, a team of analysts from CEPI reports on the state of Covid-19 vaccine development. The researchers show as of 8 April, 115 vaccine candidates are being developed worldwide. Of that number, the CEPI team could confirm the development status of 78 candidates, with 55 still in exploratory or planning stages, and 18 candidates advancing to preclinical tests with lab animals.

The remaining five vaccine prospects have scheduled and registered clinical trials to test with human subjects, and prepared test vaccines for those studies. All of the trials are early-stage studies, looking into the safety of the vaccines among healthy volunteers, not Covid-19 patients, as well as ability of the proposed vaccines to generate antibodies in participants against SARS-Cov-2 viruses that cause Covid-19 infections. Samples range in size from 40 to 103 individuals.

Four of the vaccine candidate trials are recruiting participants:

Moderna Therapeutics, mRNA-1273. Messenger RNA liquid nanoparticles. Sponsored by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of U.S. National Institutes of Health

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, INO-4800. Vaccine given with electroporation, electrical impulses to promote uptake by cells. Sponsored by CEPI.

Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute, LV-SMENP-DC. Synthetic minigene vaccine delivered with lentiviral vector.

Shenzhen Geno-Immune Medical Institute. Pathogen-specific aAPC vaccine. Synthetic minigene vaccine delivered with lentiviral vector.

The trial of a fifth candidate, Ad5-nCoV developed by Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and CanSino Biologics Inc., has not yet begun recruiting participants, as of 10 April.

The authors led by CEPI portfolio analyst Tung Le Thanh and life sciences executive Stephen Mayhew, note that the Covid-19 vaccines represent a variety of technology platforms, including by some developers with little or no experience at vaccines. But, say the authors, the developers have experience with other disease types, such as cancer. Another potential issue is the small size of some vaccine developers, particularly those advancing into clinical trials, that may need to collaborate with larger companies for manufacturing and distribution.

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